12 Tips for Designing Effective Banner Ads

You have probably seen a banner ad among all the sites you have visited and the social media networking sites you are using. Those are the advertisements campaign placed on every website. They are not that hard to notice—and that’s the point. Advertisement banners are very popular today and they have been springing out on every site across the Web.

How Do Banner Ads Work?

Banner ads are one of the primary forms of digital advertising on the Web today, and a source of revenue for many sites that offer a place for an ad on their page. Here’s how it works. Site owners offer a space on their website for advertisers to fill in with banner ads in return for a reasonable fee.

If you are the one designing the banner ad, then you know that the success of the advertising campaign depends on the design. In fact, the advertising campaign can easily be ruined by a bad design. So, in this matter, the design of the banner ad plays an important role in an advertising campaign that focuses on creating and running these ads.

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There is much to consider before taking on this kind of advertising campaign. One is the people who really find banner ads annoying and lacking in significance and substance. In fact, people would try to find a way to escape those annoying ads. There are tools and websites plugins that can easily wipe out all the ads on the website with a click. With this, advertisers have to get a little more creative and put in extra effort in how they present their advertisements.

So, if you are looking for ways to increase the chances of your banner ad getting into people’s heads, here are 12 helpful tips to design a better and more effective ad.

1. Make It Stupidly Simple

Since websites often give little space for your banner ad on their site, the utilization and optimization of space is very important. Putting too much on your banner and having too many elements within its borders does not help. After all, no one likes obnoxiously overcrowded advertisements. Complicated banner design also make things worse, since you have less than 3 seconds to get someone’s attention—complication is not a good way of doing that.

A simple banner ad will do just the trick. You want your banner ad to be simple, clean, clear, and effective in conveying the message. The less you feel the need to jam it with fanciful designs, and the more sophistication you put into the essential few remaining elements, the more confident the brand will look.


Take a look at that Spotify’s banner above. You can clearly see its point since it does not contain too many elements. Just a simple logo design with a plain black background and a few words that perfectly sum up the whole advertisement as well as the information about the product.

2. Know the Available Sizes

One of the important things to consider when creating a banner ad is its size. It can have several dimensions depending on where you are placing them. And since banner ads are to be displayed on someone else’s site, the website designer doesn’t have any control over how it will be used. Your best chances of getting your ad flatteringly displayed on every site is to know the appropriate sizes of banner ads.

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Fortunately, Google AdSense details the common ad unit sizes and ranked them according to the best performing sizes and locations. The top 6 are:

  • Leaderboard – 728 × 90
  • Large leaderboard – 970 × 90
  • Half-page – 300 × 600
  • Large rectangle – 336 × 280
  • Medium rectangle – 300 × 250
  • Large mobile banner – 320 × 100

If you already know which site your banner ad will be placed and you already know what size you are going to use, you’re all set, but if you don’t, it is important that you follow these sizes to ensure that your banner ad will be displayed properly. It is best to have ads prepared in all the popular sizes to allow choice.

3. Know Your Audience

It is also important that when you are creating and designing the banner ad, you have your audience in mind. Targeting your audience ensures that your banner ad will be effective in getting the message across. A bit of a research about your target audience, client’s business, the market, and most importantly the website on which your ad will be placed will pay huge dividends down the road.

Say, for example, you are creating an advertisement for a travel promo. Your target audience would be those people who are travelers, or those who would like to travel. You have to make sure that you are offering what they want and need—that is often to travel less expensive and more comfortably.

To make it more effective, your banner ad should be placed on a website that has something to do with traveling if not exclusively related. For example, a website that sells luggage bags or a website that books hotels and flights.

4. Make It an Attention-Grabber

Apart from being ingeniously simple and uncluttered, other factors that make a banner ad effective is by making its message clear, surprising, and compelling to the site visitors. It needs to grab their attention immediately. One does not simply visit a site only to look for advertisement. That is just absurd. Even when the banner ad is at the top of the website, people would still ignore it. You have to force them to look at your ad.

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But with a surprising and relevant banner ad, it is impossible that your add will be easily ignored. You see, people quickly look at something that is unique or new to their eyes—and that what your banner ad should aim to be.

5. Create a Strong Call to Action

This might be the most important part of any banner ad, and it’s a shame that there are still many banner ads that miss this critical element—the call-to-action (CTA) button. The CTA button button, presenting cues such as “click here”, “buy now”, “read more”, “download now”, etc., invites the user to follow through on what you want them to do in relation to the ad.

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Providing this button allows the visitor to know what to do after they have read your ad, increasing the chance of getting an interaction between the user and the advertisement—and increasing the chance of achieving the ultimate goal of the ad, which is to attract more customers. Making it clear, simple, and desirable increases chances they will respond.

The information on the banner ad and how it is presented or displayed is not enough. Even if it is well-designed and laid out accordingly, if you don’t give some clue that you want the user to click your ad, they probably won’t.

6. Offer an Irresistible Discount, Promo, Incentive, etc.

Your banner ad should offer something exciting to the customers or site visitors, for them to have a reason to click your banner ad. And what’s one thing that greatly attracts customers? Of course, discounts, promotionals, or incentives. If you are offering either of these three, your banner ad will snag attention quickly.

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For example, you can lure them in by offering a discount on a product, a buy-one-take-one deal, or you can give them incentives if they buy more than one of your products or in bulk. The customers will most likely to view your business website if they see something, such as a great deal, that can benefit them.

But obviously, you need to emphasize those offers. They need to be registered in a split-second, at first glance. There’s no point in placing such offers when it’s not even readable and noticeable.

7. Do Not Make It Look Like an Ad

Advertisements are annoying. No questions asked. Especially if does not make sense or seems like an irrelevant diversion when we are scrolling through a webpage. This is why to get eyeballs on your design, your banner ad should not look like an advertisement. This might be tricky to understand, since we are putting all this effort into making a banner advertisement we naturally expect it should look like one.

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However, people just don’t trust advertisements these days, if they even notice them, as they are generally boring, scammy, or both. Unless it offers something really exciting, your advertisement would not even appear in the radar of their attention. So, avoid designing your banner ad in a traditional style of advertisement—instead make it something more unique and relevant.

The trick here is to make your banner ad appear like it is a part of the website. For instance, if the content of the website is all about sports, then the correct banner ad that will be placed is something related to sports—a sports shoe brand for example.

Additionally, you also want to make your banner ad as far from being an advertisement as possible. Think of it more like a piece of installation art or even illustrative design.

Take a Nike banner ad as an example. You will not see it in a medical article but you may see it in a sports article. And look at also how it is designed and how it uses words to incite desire in the viewer.

8. Use the Right Tools

Using banner ads is popular these days. But for it to become one of the keys to a booming market, it should also be designed very well. In that case, you need tools and software that can help you achieve that.

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The good news, however, is that you don’t have to use any expensive wireframe tools and typography software, or hire a professional (expensive) graphic designer to create a good-looking banner ad. We are lucky that nowadays there are a lot of free tools available on the Internet that can do the work for you in no time. And they are not very hard to find.

9. Consider Motion and Animation

If your business has the money to spend, integrating animation or motion graphics to your banner ad is a good way to grab the attention of the site visitors and will greatly increase the chance of getting them engaged in your advertisement. Animated video ads are increasingly becoming popular these days (notice the autoplay functions—deliberate), simply because it is not boring and provide more information rather than a simple text.

Also, the movement denotes life and therefore hijacks attention. That’s just how human brains work.

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Just as effective as informational videos, animated banner ads (i.e., motion graphics) also brings out the best of any ad. The only downside of this is that it is expensive. But it is worth spending especially if you know that it can bring huge dividends to your business.

But always remember, although it is really helpful, too much animation can annoy some users. Just make it long enough that it can grab the attention of the site visitor and increase interaction.

10. Consider File Size–Efficiency

That means the file size of your banner ad is kept to a minimum. If you really want your ad to be seen by the site visitors then you have to make sure that they be able to see it. Obvious? If you get too ambitious with the ad and it takes ages to load, that’s a real oversight you need to take into account. No one wants to sit in front of their computer or smart phones waiting for that massive banner ad to load in.

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When your banner ad’s file size is too big, it would take much longer to load if it contains audio, video, or animations—and if the Internet connection is slow. If that’s the case, then you will be losing out on a potential customer, and worse, it would be the reason why the website itself takes a long time to load.

Lost customer opportunity and unhappy client websites. Lose-lose. That is not good for business. So, consider making it as low on file size as necessary without sacrificing the resolution of your banner ad. No matter how low its file size, it should stay as clear as possible.

11. Make It Responsive

We are in the 21st century and a few steps away from reaching the 22nd. People these days don’t even have to bother opening a computer or laptop to visit a site. There’s a reason why smartphones have massive appeal—they are super convenient in bringing the World Wide Web to the palm of someone’s hand.

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In that case, if your banner ad is designed specifically for wide desktop PC screens only, you are looking at bad UI/UX right there and decreased traffic to your site. A nightmare.

The solution? Get some Web design tools and make it responsive. Offer banner ads in alternating sizes, or better yet, create something that can adjust itself to any screen size. That way, it will be able to be displayed on any gadget without ruining its format and placement. But always make sure that it is still understandable no matter what size, and don’t sacrifice important information.

12. Test and Try Again

In the end, it really depends on how you will implement your banner ad and how effective it will be. You see, these tips are just here to guide and help you in designing the best banner ad for your business. Following these steps will not guarantee to make your banner ad effective and successful on the first go.

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You have to find out if it works using the traditional method, trial and error. If it doesn’t, then you have to try something else, other techniques or methods, then test it out again.

Over the time, you will find out what really works for you, and by then you can see that your banner ad is getting effective and becoming more successful. But, don’t stop there. Make sure you never stop improving your banner ad—and your whole marketing strategy in general. As the creative market and business competitive evolves, you and your banner ad should too.

To Wrap Things Up…

Designing a banner ad is a bit of hard task, and most of that task focuses on designing a beautiful, attention-grabbing graphic without compromising the quality and without annoying potential customers. Overall, if you really want your banner ad to become effective and successful, follow those tips mentioned above and put something on your own, give it a little twist and use your creative mind to represent the strengths of the company. After all, it is all about your advertising, and what you are trying to advertise that can tell you what you need to do.

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